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TELEHEALTH 
hiu-digital.com | HIU 49 
treatment for minor conditions, resulting 
in lost productivity and unnecessary costs 
for themselves and/or their employers. As 
for doctors, they may be forced to rush 
them through their ofces in order to keep 
up with the increased demand. 
What about afer hours?We expect to 
see an increasing number of individuals 
going to urgent care clinics and ERs if 
they can’t get in to see a doctor, resulting 
in even greater costs. 
Te American Medical Association 
states that 70% of doctor’s ofce visits can 
be handled over the phone and 50% of ER 
visits are non emergencies. Telehealth’s 
savings in claim costs range from $300 per 
year for a single employee or more than 
$1,000 per year for a family of four.1 
Te bottom line is clear:Te healthcare 
industry has changed and it will contin 
ue to become more antiquated, inefcient 
and costly unless there is change. It’s the 
perfect storm for innovative solutions. 
According to TowersWatson: “Over the 
next fve years…nearly half the employ 
ers expect a signifcant or transformative 
change. More specifcally, 49% expect 
more healthcare price transparency and 
45% expect to see new access points for 
healthcare delivery, such as telemedicine, 
e visits and data enabled kiosks.”2 
A SENSIBLE SOLUTION THAT IS 
AVAILABLE TODAY 
Te telehealth industry, as it relates to 
individuals and the workplace, has been in 
development for more than 12 years, fne 
tuning itself to deliver quality care when 
and where it’s needed. Currently, there are 
close to 8 million individuals with tele 
health benefts paid for by their employer. 
Companies such as Accenture,Te Home 
Depot, Amazon, Metro PCS, AT&T, Penske, 
CalPERS and some insurance companies 
have been ofering telehealth. 
Why is telehealth gaining so momen 
tum? It addresses the three biggest issues 
in healthcare today: 
• Timely Access 
• Lower Costs 
• Quality Care 
Te established telehealth providers 
ofer access to experienced, licensed, 
board certifed physicians 24 hours a day, 
seven days a week. If individuals have a 
minor illness, they can talk to a doctor 
by phone or online, receive a diagnosis 
and treatment, including a prescription if 
needed, all within an hour. Minor health 
illnesses include: 
• Sinusitis 
• Cold 
• Flu 
• Headache 
• Stomach ache 
• Respiratory infection 
• Urinary tract infection 
• Pink eye 
• Ear infection 
• Cough 
• Allergy 
Te doctors from the established tele 
health frms typically derive from primary 
care, internal medicine, emergency room 
or pediatric practices, with an average 
of 15 years experience.Tey have been 
thoroughly vetted and have undergone 
extensive peer reviews and the full creden 
tialing process. 
Most of them are practicing physicians, 
like your own family doctor, and dedicate 
extra time for these consultations. 
Some programs ofer more expanded 
services, such as access to specialists who 
respond to medical questions via email, 
ofen sending links to articles and videos 
designed to educate consumers and help 
them manage their health. 
It is essential to understand that tele 
health is not meant to replace primary 
care physicians. In fact, telehealth doctors 
encourage patients to see their doctor and 
get their wellness exams and lab work 
completed.Tey can even send their tel 
ephonic or online consult records directly 
to the patient’s physician.Tey simply 
provide an efcient and cost efective 
solution for those with minor health 
conditions who can’t get to a doctor in a 
timely manner. 
It’s a win for all. Individuals save time 
and money. Employers can see tremen 
dous reductions in absenteeism, leading 
to increased productivity. Self funded
companies can see immediate savings to 
their bottom line. 
According to Absenteeism:Te Bottom 
Line Killer, a publication of workforce 
solution company Circadian, unscheduled 
absenteeism costs roughly $3,600 per year 
for each hourly worker and $2,650 each 
year for salaried employees. 
Te Gallup HealthwaysWell Being 
Index surveyed 94,000 workers across 14 
major occupations in the U.S. Of the 77% 
of workers who ft the survey’s defnition of 
having a chronic health condition (asthma, 
cancer, depression, diabetes, heart attack, 
high blood pressure, high cholesterol or 
obesity), the total annual costs related to 
lost productivity totaled $84 billion.3 
Typical results from a prominent tele 
health frm from 2013 showed the following: 
• 125,000 medical consults 
• 91% of patient issues resolved 
• 97% member satisfaction rating 
• Average wait time: 24 minutes 
• Redirection of care: 
• 43% would have gone to doctor 
• 34% would have used an urgent care 
clinic 
• 8% would have visited the ER 
When factoring in the costs saved by 
redirecting care and keeping the employee 
at work, our calculations show that each 
call to a telehealth doctor will save an 
employer close to $240.4 
When you look at the math, the num 
bers are staggering. 
If it’s really that efective, some people 
may inquire:Ten why isn’t everyone 
using telehealth as part of their cost 
containment strategy? It’s a good question. 
Te answer is quite simple:Te potential 
for these results is clearly evident, but the 
actual results are based on utilization, 
which has garnered lower results. 
Tere are several reasons utilization has 
not met expectations.Te frst is that most 
50 HIU | hiu-digital.com 
telehealth providers sell “access” to their 
service at a low fee and then charge $35 $40 
to the employee for the medical consult. 
Te problem here is telehealth is still 
a new technology and employees seem 
reluctant to pay for a phone consult when 
they don’t quite understand the beneft. 
Tis brings up the other problem, 
which is educating the employee about 
telehealth what is it and how to use it. 
In years to come, as telehealth becomes 
as mainstream as social media, individuals 
may not mind paying $35 or more to get 
immediate access to a doctor by phone, es 
pecially if they have a high deductible plan 
and/or don’t have the time to visit a doctor. 
But, today, that isn’t the case. Telehealth is 
still relatively unknown to most individu 
als, not to mention to most employers. 
What is needed today to make a tele 
health beneft a success story is simple. 
It’s the same thing all corporate wellness 
directors have attempted for the last 25 
years. It’s all about changing behavior. 
It is far more difcult to change be 
havior when trying to get employees to 
change their diets and go to the gym. It 
isn’t so difcult to change behavior when 
introducing a telehealth beneft. 
• Te frst thing to do is change the busi 
ness model. Build the doctor’s fee in 
to the monthly cost of the program so 
employees don’t have to pay anything to 
call a doctor. Eliminate the barrier.What 
do they have to lose? 
• Create an awareness building campaign 
that includes regular monthly remind 
ers what is telehealth, when should it be 
used, what conditions can it treat, how to 
access a doctor, seasonal reminders/tips 
for fu season, allergy season, summer 
vacations, etc.Tose who hear about 
it during open enrollment without any 
follow up have long forgotten they even 
have the beneft by the time they need it 
several months later. It has to be the frst 
thing they think about when they get sick. 
• Encourage employees to share their 
experiences with telehealth via internal 
communication materials.Te more peo 
ple who use it, the more they understand 
the efciency and low cost, the more 
likely they are to talk about the benefts 
and remind others of the program. It is 
simple for the service to gain traction in 
the workplace by word of mouth. 
Healthcare has changed and will con 
tinue to do so. Companies will continue 
to grapple with the question of what is 
best for the company and what is best 
for the employee. Self funded companies 
will look for innovative solutions that can 
have an immediate and long term impact. 
For fully insured companies, there will be 
changes that will result in higher deduct 
ibles and many that result in employees 
being told to select their own health plans. 
In all cases, telehealth is a solution. Im 
mediate access to care by phone or online 
saves time and money and allows those 
who need care the most to get in to see a 
doctor. Individuals can easily save hun 
dreds, if not thousands, of dollars a year 
in out of pocket costs. Companies cannot 
only manage healthcare costs far better, 
but they can also decrease absenteeism 
and increase productivity a goal they 
have been working on for the last 30 years. 
It’s not the future. It’s here today. HIU 
1 Schultz, R. (2012, January 09). New medical 
cost savings program: Telemedicine means great 
discounts. 
2 Employers Plan Aggressive Response to Shifing 
Health Care Landscape, TowersWatson/Na 
tional Business Group on Health Survey Finds. 
(2013, March 07). 
3 Te Causes and Costs of Absenteeism in the 
Workplace. (2013, July 10). 
4 Based on the following assumptions: PCP visit 
$122, urgent care visit $152, ER visit $752, 
time missed from work four hours @ $21.74 
per hour. 
TELEHEALTH

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HIU: They Healthhealth Should Be Part of Every Cost-Containment Strategy

  • 1.
  • 2. TELEHEALTH hiu-digital.com | HIU 49 treatment for minor conditions, resulting in lost productivity and unnecessary costs for themselves and/or their employers. As for doctors, they may be forced to rush them through their ofces in order to keep up with the increased demand. What about afer hours?We expect to see an increasing number of individuals going to urgent care clinics and ERs if they can’t get in to see a doctor, resulting in even greater costs. Te American Medical Association states that 70% of doctor’s ofce visits can be handled over the phone and 50% of ER visits are non emergencies. Telehealth’s savings in claim costs range from $300 per year for a single employee or more than $1,000 per year for a family of four.1 Te bottom line is clear:Te healthcare industry has changed and it will contin ue to become more antiquated, inefcient and costly unless there is change. It’s the perfect storm for innovative solutions. According to TowersWatson: “Over the next fve years…nearly half the employ ers expect a signifcant or transformative change. More specifcally, 49% expect more healthcare price transparency and 45% expect to see new access points for healthcare delivery, such as telemedicine, e visits and data enabled kiosks.”2 A SENSIBLE SOLUTION THAT IS AVAILABLE TODAY Te telehealth industry, as it relates to individuals and the workplace, has been in development for more than 12 years, fne tuning itself to deliver quality care when and where it’s needed. Currently, there are close to 8 million individuals with tele health benefts paid for by their employer. Companies such as Accenture,Te Home Depot, Amazon, Metro PCS, AT&T, Penske, CalPERS and some insurance companies have been ofering telehealth. Why is telehealth gaining so momen tum? It addresses the three biggest issues in healthcare today: • Timely Access • Lower Costs • Quality Care Te established telehealth providers ofer access to experienced, licensed, board certifed physicians 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If individuals have a minor illness, they can talk to a doctor by phone or online, receive a diagnosis and treatment, including a prescription if needed, all within an hour. Minor health illnesses include: • Sinusitis • Cold • Flu • Headache • Stomach ache • Respiratory infection • Urinary tract infection • Pink eye • Ear infection • Cough • Allergy Te doctors from the established tele health frms typically derive from primary care, internal medicine, emergency room or pediatric practices, with an average of 15 years experience.Tey have been thoroughly vetted and have undergone extensive peer reviews and the full creden tialing process. Most of them are practicing physicians, like your own family doctor, and dedicate extra time for these consultations. Some programs ofer more expanded services, such as access to specialists who respond to medical questions via email, ofen sending links to articles and videos designed to educate consumers and help them manage their health. It is essential to understand that tele health is not meant to replace primary care physicians. In fact, telehealth doctors encourage patients to see their doctor and get their wellness exams and lab work completed.Tey can even send their tel ephonic or online consult records directly to the patient’s physician.Tey simply provide an efcient and cost efective solution for those with minor health conditions who can’t get to a doctor in a timely manner. It’s a win for all. Individuals save time and money. Employers can see tremen dous reductions in absenteeism, leading to increased productivity. Self funded
  • 3. companies can see immediate savings to their bottom line. According to Absenteeism:Te Bottom Line Killer, a publication of workforce solution company Circadian, unscheduled absenteeism costs roughly $3,600 per year for each hourly worker and $2,650 each year for salaried employees. Te Gallup HealthwaysWell Being Index surveyed 94,000 workers across 14 major occupations in the U.S. Of the 77% of workers who ft the survey’s defnition of having a chronic health condition (asthma, cancer, depression, diabetes, heart attack, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or obesity), the total annual costs related to lost productivity totaled $84 billion.3 Typical results from a prominent tele health frm from 2013 showed the following: • 125,000 medical consults • 91% of patient issues resolved • 97% member satisfaction rating • Average wait time: 24 minutes • Redirection of care: • 43% would have gone to doctor • 34% would have used an urgent care clinic • 8% would have visited the ER When factoring in the costs saved by redirecting care and keeping the employee at work, our calculations show that each call to a telehealth doctor will save an employer close to $240.4 When you look at the math, the num bers are staggering. If it’s really that efective, some people may inquire:Ten why isn’t everyone using telehealth as part of their cost containment strategy? It’s a good question. Te answer is quite simple:Te potential for these results is clearly evident, but the actual results are based on utilization, which has garnered lower results. Tere are several reasons utilization has not met expectations.Te frst is that most 50 HIU | hiu-digital.com telehealth providers sell “access” to their service at a low fee and then charge $35 $40 to the employee for the medical consult. Te problem here is telehealth is still a new technology and employees seem reluctant to pay for a phone consult when they don’t quite understand the beneft. Tis brings up the other problem, which is educating the employee about telehealth what is it and how to use it. In years to come, as telehealth becomes as mainstream as social media, individuals may not mind paying $35 or more to get immediate access to a doctor by phone, es pecially if they have a high deductible plan and/or don’t have the time to visit a doctor. But, today, that isn’t the case. Telehealth is still relatively unknown to most individu als, not to mention to most employers. What is needed today to make a tele health beneft a success story is simple. It’s the same thing all corporate wellness directors have attempted for the last 25 years. It’s all about changing behavior. It is far more difcult to change be havior when trying to get employees to change their diets and go to the gym. It isn’t so difcult to change behavior when introducing a telehealth beneft. • Te frst thing to do is change the busi ness model. Build the doctor’s fee in to the monthly cost of the program so employees don’t have to pay anything to call a doctor. Eliminate the barrier.What do they have to lose? • Create an awareness building campaign that includes regular monthly remind ers what is telehealth, when should it be used, what conditions can it treat, how to access a doctor, seasonal reminders/tips for fu season, allergy season, summer vacations, etc.Tose who hear about it during open enrollment without any follow up have long forgotten they even have the beneft by the time they need it several months later. It has to be the frst thing they think about when they get sick. • Encourage employees to share their experiences with telehealth via internal communication materials.Te more peo ple who use it, the more they understand the efciency and low cost, the more likely they are to talk about the benefts and remind others of the program. It is simple for the service to gain traction in the workplace by word of mouth. Healthcare has changed and will con tinue to do so. Companies will continue to grapple with the question of what is best for the company and what is best for the employee. Self funded companies will look for innovative solutions that can have an immediate and long term impact. For fully insured companies, there will be changes that will result in higher deduct ibles and many that result in employees being told to select their own health plans. In all cases, telehealth is a solution. Im mediate access to care by phone or online saves time and money and allows those who need care the most to get in to see a doctor. Individuals can easily save hun dreds, if not thousands, of dollars a year in out of pocket costs. Companies cannot only manage healthcare costs far better, but they can also decrease absenteeism and increase productivity a goal they have been working on for the last 30 years. It’s not the future. It’s here today. HIU 1 Schultz, R. (2012, January 09). New medical cost savings program: Telemedicine means great discounts. 2 Employers Plan Aggressive Response to Shifing Health Care Landscape, TowersWatson/Na tional Business Group on Health Survey Finds. (2013, March 07). 3 Te Causes and Costs of Absenteeism in the Workplace. (2013, July 10). 4 Based on the following assumptions: PCP visit $122, urgent care visit $152, ER visit $752, time missed from work four hours @ $21.74 per hour. TELEHEALTH